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Dive into the Phish groove

Matt Crane

VAIL – Sometimes you just have to get your Phix. Phix, a Colorado-based jam band, will play at the Sandbar Saturday night at 10. The group is a leading Phish cover band and has experienced notable success since its four members began to play together in the wake of Phish’s hiatus in 2000.”We try to capture the spirit in which the music is intended, which we believe is for it to sound fresh and unique every time it is played,” the band claims on its Web site.Phish, a legendary jam band that developed a wide cult following during its 21-year run, is known for its extended jams, curious lyrics and wild on-stage antics. Phix drummer Chris Sheldon is an admitted “late bloomer” as a Phish fan. He first listened to their music in 1995, but didn’t see them live until 1997. However, his band-mates were into the Phish groove several years prior, he says.”I thought it was great. I had been up to that point listening to their studio albums – it was different than I imagined. Every time I saw them after that I thought it was just amazing,” says Sheldon.

With Phish’s temporary departure from touring in 2000, “Phish phans” like Sheldon and the rest of the band, Paul Murin, Derek Berg, and Brian Adams, felt a void, the drummer said.The group met and created Phix to work “in our own, humble way to recreate the special energy and spontaneity of a live Phish concert.”Phix believes that Phish’s music and energetic style should be kept alive, said Sheldon.”We just think that their music is pretty important as far as the legacy of rock ‘n’ roll goes. We never claim to be as good as the original – or even close, but we provide a respectable version of the original for a low price,” said Sheldon.The band maintains that they are not trying to be Phish. They produce accurate covers, but deliver original performances. “We can express ourselves within [Phish songs], but still stay true to the song,” he said.Phix began playing at bars in Boulder, but quickly moved to larger venues. They currently tour across the country, hitting cities like New Orleans and Chicago, and towns like Vail and Ketchum, ID. Traveling has given the band many interesting experiences, said Sheldon, but one of the most memorable was when Phish bassist Mike Gordon attended their show in New York City last March.

Through touring, Phix has generated a large fan base of their own, which is the most rewarding part of their work, said the drummer. “We’ve always felt fulfilled as far as the music goes, but the overwhelming response of the fans – that’s why we’re still doing it,” said Sheldon.Just how much longer they will be “doing it” is uncertain, although Sheldon said they will continue for at least a few more years. “We would like to keep doing Phix, but, as musicians, we want to do some stuff of our own. We’ll keep growing it if we can.”Phix is a strictly live act. They don’t sell albums or even make studio recordings. Free concert recordings are available at their Web site, however, at http://www.phixband.com.



Vail, Colorado


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